Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – March 23, 2019
When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” Matthew 9:11-13 (NRSV)
I’ve never met someone who enjoys being taxed. In the words of George Harrison, it often can feel like we’re only working for the taxman. As such, tax collectors throughout history have struggled to find the respect they likely felt they deserved, and this was especially true in the world of Jesus’s day.
To be a tax collector, like Matthew, was seen by most as a betrayal of your own family. The Jews lived under Roman rule, and so for a Jew to go and work for Rome, extorting money from their own people, was a decision to accept a degree of financial security in exchange for cultural condemnation and outright hostility. For an up and coming religious leader looking to make a mark on the Jewish establishment, a tax collector is quite literally the last person you would ever recruit to be on your leadership team! And yet, Jesus sees Matthew and says, “Follow me.”
So often we live as though Jesus will only see us and welcome us if we have everything together. When we fail to live up to a standard of perfection, we distance ourselves from Jesus in shame and fear, assuming he wants nothing to do with us. Yet I can’t help but wonder if this perception is driven by a faulty view of Jesus and his mission?
Jesus didn’t come to earth to find the best and the brightest to celebrate them and their accomplishments. In fact, much of his ministry was spent showing these people the blindness of their sight! Instead, like a great physician, he drew near to those who knew they were sick and believed themselves to have a terminal illness. Matthew didn’t need someone to remind him of how people felt about him! He needed someone to say, “this is not the end of your story.”
Wherever you find yourself today, Jesus sees you and sees a way forward for you. He removes the shame and stigma that surrounds your sin, inviting you into a bold and honest embrace of your need and brokenness. Your sickness is not an obstacle or liability to Jesus, but is the very heart of what he came to heal, restore, and make new.
Father, remind us that Jesus meets us in our brokenness and speaks life where there is death, inviting us to follow him into the way of peace. Amen.
Where have you hidden your sin and sickness from Jesus out of shame or fear?
God’s grace and forgiveness removes the shame and stigma that surrounds our sin. #wisdomhunters #story
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